Major Harold Carey Matthews was born in 1879, son of F W W Matthews, he went on to join the 4th Battalion Green Howards where he acted as subaltern during the Second Boer War. After retiring from the military he worked for Barclays Bank at Leyburn, where his father also worked. When World War One broke out he re-enlisted with the Green Howards and was promoted to Major, on 29th August 1914. He was killed in action on the 25th April 1915 near Ypres and is buried at Sanctuary Wood Cemetery, Belgium.
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John Thompson, husband of Martha and father figure to Thomas, John and Jonah, resided in Little Crakehall, Bedale, where he worked as a blacksmith – an occupation that in December 1914, aged 44 years, led him to be specially enlisted into the Army Service Corps to serve as a farrier. Unbeknown to his family, John’s service records reveal that in January 1915, he embarked with the British Expeditionary Force to the Western Front, being transferred to Egypt in October, and later transferred to Salonica, Greece in November. On one occasion in 1915, when on active service, John was found to be ‘drunk, out of bounds and improperly dressed’, offences for which he received a fine of five shillings on January 1st 1916- not a good way to start the new year! In July 1916, John was admitted to the 2nd Western General Hospital, Manchester, where he received treatment for myalgia, influenza and rheumatism in his feet and reported suffering from a ‘troublesome cough’. Following discharge from hospital in August, John was deemed ‘no longer physically fit for war services’ and subsequently returned home to Little Crakehall that September. John soon discovered that he was not the only family member to suffer in July 1916 – aged only 20, his son, John Jr, had been killed in the Battle of the Somme. On the 10th of July 1916, John Jr, serving with the 8th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment, was ordered to attack and capture Contalmaison. Advancing from Horseshoe Trench, John came under…
Fred was the youngest son of Joseph Shields, a Castle Bolton plumber and tinsmith. He was born around 1897. The 1911 census shows the family as having 3 children, Alice, 28, Joseph, 26, and Fred, 14, with his wife Elizabeth. They lived in a section of Bolton Castle, acting as caretakers, with Elizabeth providing refreshments for visitors. They also had a tinsmith’s shop in a building across from the castle making kettles and pans etc. which today is a storeroom. Fred enlisted at Northallerton on the 7th December 1915 and joined the 8th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Early in July 1917 Fred arrived with a detachment of men at Steenvoorde in northern France adjacent the Belgium border in the area west of Ypres. It was during the 3rd Battle of Ypres, better known as Passchendaele, that Private Fred Kilding Shields was killed. A shell burst in the trench where Fred and 3 others died, He was just 21 years old. Fred is buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery.
Sgt. Ernest Brooke was born in Brighthouse, Yorkshire in 1886. In civilian life Ernest worked a railway signalman. Ernest’s medal records show he was entitled to the 1914 Star indicating that he was an ‘Old Contemptible’, part of the original British Expeditionary Force that fought in France and Belgium from August 1914. Ernest served with the 2nd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment until his death on 4th January 1918. The New Year 1918 that at 11pm (German midnight) on the 31st December 1917, ‘…all guns of artillery fired one round each, whilst machine guns fired two belts of ammunition each ‘to usher in the new year’. The following day, the 2nd Battalion were relieved from the front line and relocated to ‘Hedge Street Tunnels’. On the night of the 4th of January, a fire broke out in the area of the tunnel being occupied by the Battalion, resulting the loss of a further 20 lives from the 2nd Battalion – one of those lives being Ernest Brookes’. In accordance with his wishes, Ernest’s outstanding pay and War Gratuity, totalling £29, 7shillings and 19d to his mother, Hannah.